21 Personification Examples (+ Definition & Related Terms) (2023)

Do you need some good personification examples?

Whether you’re writing a poem, studying a play, or even looking for some ways to spice up your copywriting, personification is a powerful figure of speech.

Not quite sure what personification is? Let’s take a quick look:

The sea sighed and moaned.

Here, the sea is described like it’s a living being: sighing and moaning, like a human.

That’s personification.

So how (and why) does personification get used in literature, poetry, pop culture, and everyday life?

Let’s dig in.

21 Personification Examples (+ Definition & Related Terms) (1)

Personification Definition

The term “personification” is used in a few different ways. Here’s the most common definition — and the one we’re going to be focusing on throughout our examples.

Personification is the attribution of human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, or even abstract ideas.

You might also hear “personification” used to indicate that a character embodies a particular idea, quality, or vice, in a piece of literature or art.

Why Do Writers Use Personification?

Personification is a form of figurative language, where writers convey an idea or feeling by saying something that isn’t literally true.

Personification can make a non-human entity seem more vivid, even more dangerous, especially if the personification involves the use of sensory words.

For example:

“The fire swallowed the house” might have more of an emotional impact than “The fire engulfed the house.”

Often, particularly in poetry, personification is used to create a specific mood. It might make things seem more ominous, for instance, or it could give a sense of mystery.

Examples of Personification

It’s easiest to understand personification (and how it differs from other techniques, like anthropomorphism) by taking a look at some examples.

As you can see from the range of examples here, personification is widely used not only in classic works of literature but also in popular culture and everyday speech.

Examples of Personification in Literature

21 Personification Examples (+ Definition & Related Terms) (2)

1. The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim.

(Video) English Lesson #21 | What is Personification?

(You can read the whole story here.)

This short story by Poe is filled with themes of horror and madness.

Like all of Poe’s writing, it’s evocative and suspenseful. In this short extract, death is personified: it “stalks” like a person and casts a shadow.

Death is often personified, sometimes to the extent of becoming an actual character — for examples of that, try Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series or Emily Dickinson’s poem Because I Could Not Stop for Death.

2. Blackberry Wine, Joanne Harris

Wine talks; ask anyone. The oracle at the street corner; the uninvited guest at the wedding feast; the holy fool. It ventriloquizes. It has a million voices. It unleashes the tongue, teasing out secrets you never meant to tell, secrets you never even knew. It shouts, rants, whispers. It speaks of great plans, tragic loves and terrible betrayals. It screams with laughter. It chuckles softly to itself.

Wine is personified from the first sentence of this novel: “wine talks.” It’s given human attributes, not just the ability to talk, but to tease out secrets, to shout, rant, whisper, and even laugh.

In the original UK edition of the book, the wine itself acts as a narrator:

“Take me, for instance. Fleurie, 1962. Last survivor of a crate of twelve, bottled and laid down the year Jay was born. … Five years ago, he laid me out on a table set with silver candlesticks, but nothing came of it. In spite of that he and the girl stayed together.”

The US edition (unusually) is quite different, with the whimsical first-person narrative of the wine completely lacking; instead, the story is told as a more straightforward third-person narrative.

3. Romeo’s Speech, Act 2 scene 2, Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (1597)

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief,

That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.

(You can read the rest of the speech here.)

In this very famous speech from Romeo and Juliet, Romeo personifies the moon, attributing human emotions (envy, grief) as well as human qualities (becoming sick) to it.

Natural forces, like the sun, moon, stars, wind, rain, storms, tides, and fire are often personified in literature.

Interestingly, here, Juliet is compared with the sun in a metaphor — making her more powerful and also more remote than she really is as a human teenager.

Examples of Personification in Poetry

21 Personification Examples (+ Definition & Related Terms) (3)

4. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, William Wordsworth (1807)

I wandered lonely as a cloud

(Video) Personification | Award Winning Personification Teaching Video | What is Personification?

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

(You can read the whole poem here.)

This very famous poem from the romantic poet William Wordsworth describes seeing a “crowd” — a very human term — of daffodils. The daffodils are “dancing” in the breeze, a human action that brings alive their movement and evokes a sense of joy in the imagined sight.

The daffodils’ lively, whimsical nature is further explored in the second stanza, which tells us they were “tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”

Even the first line of this poem has a degree of personification, suggesting that clouds can be lonely.

Related: 39 Imagery Examples (+7 Types) To Stimulate The Senses

5. Valentine, Carol Ann Duffy (1993)

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.

Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,

possessive and faithful

In this poem, Carol Ann Duffy uses an onion as a symbol of love. The onion is given the ability to “kiss” — a human action — and it’s also given two human emotions, possessiveness, and faithfulness.

6. New Year Work Chitchat, Brian Bilston (2023)

Here’s a poem about returning to work in the New Year and having to participate in idle chitchat about Christmas. pic.twitter.com/mCei8tCS82

— Brian Bilston (@brian_bilston) January 4, 2022

This funny and (somewhat uncharacteristically) sinister poem is by Brian Bilston, who’s often called the “poet laureate of Twitter”.

(Video) What is personification? 🤔 | Personification in English | Learn with examples

In it, the narrator’s dreams are personified as something with human thumbs: they “smudge their thumbprints on the day to come.”

Examples of Personification in Pop Culture

21 Personification Examples (+ Definition & Related Terms) (4)

7. When Bull Beats Bear (series of ads), Grey Canada

Personification can involve photos or illustrations, not just words. The image below is part of a short series of humorous and eye-catching ads, with a toy bull beating up a toy bear.

Here, the bull is personified: it’s sitting in an armchair and reading a newspaper, with its feet up on a bearskin rug:

21 Personification Examples (+ Definition & Related Terms) (5)

Related: 25 Types of Humor to Tickle Your Funny Bone (+ Examples)

8. John McClane, Die Hard (1988)

John McClane: Now I know what a TV dinner feels like.

In films, personification is often used for one-liners, like this quip from John McClane, crawling through a vent in the Nakatomi Plaza. Obviously, TV dinners don’t really have the human capacity to feel.

Check out the clip below.

Yippee-ki-yay mother….readers 🙂


9. Dexter Morgan, Dexter (2006 – 2013)

I’m Dexter and I’m not sure what I am. I just know there’s something dark in me, and I hide it. I certainly don’t talk about it, but it’s there — always. This Dark Passenger. And when he’s driving, I feel… alive. Half sick with the thrill, the complete wrongness. I don’t fight him, I don’t want to. He’s all I’ve got. Nothing else could love me, not even… especially not me. Or is that just a lie the Dark Passenger tells me?

Dexter’s “Dark Passenger” is how he describes his impulse to kill. He gives it human qualities — like the ability to love, and the ability to tell lies.

Check out the clip here:

21 Personification Examples (+ Definition & Related Terms) (6)

Twelve Common Examples of Personification

We use personification all the time in everyday speech. Some personification has tipped over into cliche — such as when I say that food I’m craving is “calling my name.”

(Video) What is Personification? |Definition with Examples| Urdu / Hindi.

Here are 12 examples of how we personify everyday events and objects:

  1. “The metal screamed.”
  2. “Lightning danced across the sky.”
  3. “The car grumbled.”
  4. “The computer wasn’t co-operating.”
  5. “The cake was calling my name.”
  6. “The bells sang out.”
  7. “The flowers were begging for water.”
  8. “The engine was hungry.”
  9. “Justice is blind.”
  10. “The trees watched.”
  11. “The party died.”
  12. “The table groaned.”

Related Terms

Next, we’ll dive into some literary terms closely related to personification. It’s important to distinguish between these, as it’s easy to get personification muddled up with some of them — particularly with anthropomorphism.


Anthropomorphism is when an animal or object behaves in a human-like way. It’s easy to confuse it with personification, but here’s how they differ.

If the narrator refers to the moon as “watching”, but means this only as a metaphor, that’s personification.

If the moon has eyes and is truly watching the Earth, that’s anthropomorphism.

Anthropomorphism is commonly associated with work aimed at children, but it also takes place in plenty of serious, adult works. (Think of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, for instance.)

Pathetic Fallacy

Pathetic fallacy attributes human emotion to something that’s non-human.

Note that it’s always about emotion — not about other human attributes, like “singing” or “strolling”.

Crucially, pathetic fallacy is also used to link with something that a human character is feeling — the things around them reflect their mood. If the sky is “sullen” but the narrator is full of cheer, that’s not a good example of pathetic fallacy.

Often, pathetic fallacy is used in relation to nature. The rain might be described as “miserable”, for instance — but really it’s the character who’s unhappy.


An allegory is a story or poem that has a hidden meaning — usually a political or moral message.

The story might seem to be about one thing on the surface, but there’s a deeper meaning to it. Sometimes, this meaning is spelled out, perhaps with the allegory being presented first, then an interpretation being offered.

A great example is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, where human beliefs about reality are likened to people in a cave, able to only see shadows rather than the real things that cast those shadows.

You could think of an allegory as being like a very extended, whole-story, metaphor.


A metaphor draws a parallel between one thing and another, completely unrelated, thing. It states that one thing is the other — even though this is not literally true. For instance, “this argument is a slippery slope” or “the snow is a white carpet across the land.”

In Romeo’s speech earlier, he used a metaphor when talking about Juliet, saying “Juliet is the sun.”

Related: 57 Metaphor Examples That’ll Pack Your Prose With Persuasion

Use These Personification Examples in Your Writing or Studying

We’ve looked at lots of different examples of personification above. Some are very recent, others are centuries old. Some are from classic works of literature, others are from pop culture.

(Video) What is Personification?

Whether you’re studying literature, aiming to become a better writer, or even hoping to make extra cash writing, getting to grips with personification can help.

Next time you’re reading a book or poem, or watching a TV show, keep an eye out for personification. Don’t just spot it, though — figure out what effect it has. That way, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how personification works.


What is personification example and definition? ›

The basic idea behind personification is that you take an object or animal and give it human qualities, such as emotions or thoughts. For example, instead of just describing the wind as blowing, you might describe it as “breathing” across your face. When you do this, you're personifying the wind.

What is a personification short definition? ›

With personification, you emphasize a non-human's characteristics by describing them with human attributes. That non-human can be an object, an animal, or even an idea or a concept.

Which is an example of personification in ASL? ›

For example, “The tree shook its head as if to disagree with the wind.

What are 3 personification examples? ›

Personification examples

Some examples of it are phrases: “The sun smiled down on us.” 'The story jumped off the page.” “The light danced on the surface of the water.”

Is the best definition of personification? ›

Definition of personification

1 : attribution of personal qualities especially : representation of a thing or abstraction as a person or by the human form. 2 : a divinity or imaginary being representing a thing or abstraction. 3 : embodiment, incarnation.

What is personification 8th grade? ›

Personification is giving human characteristics to nonhuman things. It is a figure of speech that can be used to make writing more interesting or to emphasize a point. The trees danced in the wind. The word danced describes the trees as if they were people.

What is an example of personification quizlet? ›

The tree waved at us as we passed. The dog talked to us at the park. The bear knocked on the door to the house. The stars danced in the nighttime sky.

What is a good example of personification? ›

Personification is when you give an object or animal human behaviors. An example of personification would be in the nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle,” where “the little dog laughed to see such fun.” Anthropomorphism is when you make an object or animal dress and behave like a human.

What is personification 5th grade? ›

Personification is giving human traits (qualities, feelings, action, or characteristics) to non-living objects (things, colors, qualities, or ideas). Examples: The sun smiled at me as it popped up. The rain kissed my cheeks as it fell. 5th Grade Figurative Language.

What is personification 6th grade? ›

Personification is giving human characteristics to nonhuman things. It is a figure of speech that can be used to make writing more interesting or to emphasize a point. The trees danced in the wind.

What is an example of personification in a story? ›

Personification is a figure of speech in which human qualities are given to objects, animals, or ideas. For example: the fire breathed hot in our faces and its flames grabbed at our clothes, or the chocolate cake is calling my name. Personification can make your writing much more interesting.

What is a personification example for students? ›

Some of the most commonly used examples of personification in speech include: My alarm clock yells at me in the morning to wake up. The wind howled last night. My plants are begging for water.

What is personification 3rd grade? ›

Personification is a figurative device in which human attributes or feelings are given to an inanimate object or thing as if it were human. It's a technique that's used a lot in both speech and writing. An example would be 'the snowflakes danced in the cold winter breeze.

What is personification your answer? ›

Personification is a type of metaphor that gives human characteristics to inanimate objects and animals, such as emotions and behaviors. An example of personification is the English nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle,” which features a cow jumping over the moon.

Which is the classic example of personification *? ›

Basic Examples of Personification

The stars winked in the night sky. Stars, having no eyes, cannot wink. But when you see this phrase, you know that they're twinkling. The bridge stretched over the interstate.

What is a good example of personification in poetry? ›

A figure of speech in which the poet describes an abstraction, a thing, or a nonhuman form as if it were a person. William Blake's “O Rose, thou art sick!” is one example; Donne's “Death, be not proud” is another.

Which is the classic example of personification? ›

Basic Examples of Personification

The stars winked in the night sky. Stars, having no eyes, cannot wink. But when you see this phrase, you know that they're twinkling. The bridge stretched over the interstate.

What is personification examples for kids? ›

Some of the most commonly used examples of personification in speech include: My alarm clock yells at me in the morning to wake up. The wind howled last night. My plants are begging for water.


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